A year-long effort by Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital puts a dent in the half-million surgical site infections Americans are diagnosed with each year.

Doctors, nurses and administrators at Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital can claim equal pride in a one-year initiative that has dramatically decreased the likelihood of surgical infections. More than 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with surgical site infections annually, which can cause complications, prolong recovery and increase the costs of care.

The staff at LSSH completed a national surgical care improvement project, sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, targeting reducing infection by selecting appropriate antibiotics.

Health-surgeryWork began in January 2011 when infection preventionist Charlotte Dupuis, LSSH’s vice president of quality management and compliance, reviewed the hospital’s surgical wound infection and the compliance rates for the improvement project with LSSH CEO Buffy Domingue and Patient Care Unit Clinical Manager Ruth Sonnier.

Sonnier took the lead on the project in collaboration with eQHealth Solutions, the Medicare quality improvement organization for Louisiana. Results were gathered through collection and analysis of monthly data from LSSH.

LSSH’s goal was to achieve a 99 percent compliance rate with appropriate antibiotic selection for orthopedic and neurosurgery cases within one year. Using a baseline of 87 percent calculated in January, the project team met the outlined goal just five months later.

Team members started by performing one-on-one reviews of appropriate antibiotic selections by physicians for each specialty. Sonnier then collaborated with physicians to review their specific data and revise all physician order sets to include only the specific antibiotics recommended for each procedure.

“Improvement was instant once we implemented the new order sets. It was a great feeling of accomplishment to see success immediately through such a small change,” Sonnier says.

As the project moved forward, the LSSH team faced a few obstacles, but doctors and other staffers involved in the project say the program’s huge success is demonstrated by how quickly LSSH met the goal outlined by the federal agency, and how well LSSH maintained the goal throughout the year. According to team members, results of the improvement efforts never rose above a 1 percent variance. — IND Monthly Staff

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